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Lovely people who read The Streetlamp

Friday, 1 June 2012

Tales of cyclists, Tories and bad, bad drivers.

 As you should all know by now (see ‘here’ and ‘here’), the Streetlamp team are avid cyclists. You also can’t have failed to notice that we also like a chance to get up on our soapbox and support a worthy cause too. Happily, the cause I want to write about tonight allows me to bring both of these Streetlamp interests together in a rather neat way.

Pedal on Parliament, is a grass roots campaign of cyclists forming a cross-section of Scottish cycling: commuters, road racers and club members, mountain bikers, long-distance tourers, Dutch-bike riding city cyclists, urban single speeders, tweed-wearing rural cyclists, plus those who just like getting from A to B quickly. The purpose of the campaign is to make it safer and easier for everyone to ride a bike – whatever bike they ride.

To this end, Pedal on Parliament has released an eight-point manifesto (see below) that aims to make Scotland a cycle friendly nation. They are now calling on all Scotland’s politicians, of all parties, to sign up to it, in order to make cycling a realistic choice for everyone, from eight to eighty – and show the rest of the UK that cycling doesn’t just belong on continental Europe, but in the country where it all began:

1)    Proper funding for cycling.
2)    Design cycling into Scotland’s roads.
3)    Safer speeds where people live, work and play
4)    Integrate cycling into local transport strategies
5)    Sensible road traffic law and enforcement
6)    Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians
7)    A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training
8)    Solid research on cycling to support policy-making

The campaign is supported by local Glasgow cycling legend Magnatom, whom we have written about previously on the Streetlamp (see ‘here’), and in an attempt to raise the profile of the campaign he wrote to Annabel Goldie the Conservative (boo! hiss!) MSP for the West of Scotland. In typical Tory fashion she replied with a load of meaningless political flannel before launching the following unexpected attack on cyclists:

"However, cyclists have obligations. Some cyclists ignore red lights, thereby endangering themselves and others; others do not use proper lighting on their bikes either at night or when visibility is poor; and others still neglect to wear helmets. That is not the responsibility of Government or motorists; it is up to the cyclists to behave responsibly and to undertake the appropriate training."

Yep, you can always rely on the Tories to turn around a positive campaign for cycling in Scotland into a chance to launch an unprovoked attack on us. Truly, they have no shame. You can read the complete exchange of correspondence on Magnatom’s site ‘here’.

Recently, I was cycling in a favourite spot of mine, where the Streetlamp team often go hill-walking, in a quiet corner of rural Stirlingshire when I happened across the following sobering and sombre shrine to a fellow cyclist who’d been involved in an accident: 

This simple gesture, made by an unknown person, of placing these items at the lonely spot really brought it home to me how vulnerable we are, even when out on the sort of quiet back-roads that should be heaven for cyclists. It seems obvious to me, that with cars getting bigger and faster we MUST change drivers’ mindset on cyclists. We have every right to use roads safely just as much as drivers do.
If you agree with this sentiment, then you can play your part by getting involved with the Pedal on Parliament campaign; it doesn’t have to be very much, at the very least you could take a few seconds to sign their online petition ‘here’.

Now for a wee bit of bike-related music to lighten the mood. Here’s the sweeping, indie-surf epic Late Night Bikes by Kansas City-based band Capybara.

Great song, I think. It can be downloaded as a free MP3 ‘here’. Drummer Mark Harrison says of the song:

"I think deep down everybody has a sense of nostalgia. In 'Late Night Bikes,' it's the simple pleasure of riding bikes at night that we wanted to share, whether you're on your way to meet up with friends or running to the store to pick up milk for the cereal that you're eating alone in your apartment."

He makes late night bike riding sound very romantic, doesn’t he? Now, let’s all work together to make it safe too.


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